A GIFT FOR YOU

Just before Christmas, Penguin Random House sent me two copies of a book. One for me and one for one of my readers.

Not one to normally frequent the Self-Help section in bookshops (there’s nothing wrong with doing that by the way, it’s just not where I personally seek solace) this is one that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have discovered. It is a sort of dip-in-and-out-of book with the aim of setting you on the road to mindfulness, painted in soothing pictures and calming words. I don’t want to say too much about it as the best gifts are given as a surprise, but I believe this this book should go to someone in need of a break, who enjoys the beauty of print and needs a little help in taking some time out for themselves at the moment.

So if you know someone who you think deserves this as a new year treat – whether they have just gone through a major break up or if they just need assistance in stopping for more than a coffee – then comment below/Facebook/Tweet/Email me with their name, why you think they deserve a copy of the book and I’ll be in touch with details about sending it on its merry way. The catch? I’ll give it until the 25th January when I’ll choose a winner at random. Oh, and your nominated reader needs to live in the UK.

Help someone beat their blues this January.

Good luck!

GIVEAWAY!

The lovely people at Puffin have sent me two fantastic books to give away to my readers: ‘Hold Me Closer’ (a signed copy- shush!) written by David Levithan and ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ written by both Levithan and John Green.

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‘Hold Me Closer’ is a story told by Tiny Cooper written in the form of a musical. Different, I know. But it works. “Filled with humour, pain, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, readers will finally learn the full story of Tiny Cooper from his birth and childhood to his quest for love and his infamous eighteen ex-boyfriends.”

The book is a follow on from ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’, which is about “Two guys with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high-school stage.”

If you love John Green, like most of us do, you are guaranteed to enjoy both of these books. And I promise you won’t weep as much as that time you read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ in public.

‘Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.’ – John Green

To enter, all you have to do is tweet me telling me something that you have accomplished that you are proud of (this giveaway is in conjunction with Pride, after all). If you’re not a fan of Twitter? Simply comment below. You can tell me something that you have achieved yourself or, if you would like to nominate a friend, then tell me what they’ve done to make you feel proud today. I’m starting to feel a bit like Heather Small, so I’ll stop now.

Once everyone has submitted their celebration, I will then choose a winner at complete random and have these two little golden nuggets sent out to you STAT. You have until 31st July.

Best of luck!

THE PRIDE

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Although I’ve brandished this post with that all-too familiar rainbow motif, representative of our world-wide LGBT community and the array of colour within, in actual fact, it isn’t all rainbows and smiles all the time, is it?

For so many people, ‘coming out’ is an issue. For so many people, ‘coming out’ is still a thing. But the question still left unanswered is: why, in 2015, does ‘coming out’ still need to even exist? Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of how important coming out is to the gay community, so I am not trying to dismiss it, criticise it or belittle it, but I just can’t help but think that life would be a little bit more fair without the need for it. Idealistic, perhaps. But let’s aim high.

Think about this: why is it okay that I, as a heterosexual female, didn’t have to sit down with my parents to let them know that I fancied a boy at my school? And why is it okay that it would have been expected of me, had I actually fancied one of my best girl mates, to sit them down with a worried look on my face and a nervous rumble in my tummy, to tell them that, actually, what makes me happy is Mary, not Mark?

Being straight is a given, a basic human right, a no brainer. Being gay? Something to be discussed and to some degree, exposed.

I should say at this point that my parents are incredibly liberal. I could’ve brought home anything – man, woman, alien – they would have been fine, albeit a little nervous meeting the in-laws. But no matter how liberal they are, they still sat me down as a teenager and forced me to partake in the most awkward conversation of my life, whilst missing out on some vital information. They spoke about condoms. STI’s. The Pill. But at no point, as I shuffled in my seat and grimaced at the impromptu and somewhat premature discussion of my future sex life, did my parents explain that I might actually fall in love with a woman. Trust me, had they even touched on the topic of same-sex sex, I would have staked claim to being a lesbian immediately, if only to cut the condom and pregnancy chat shorter than they intended it to be.

As it turns out (although I do have a massive thing for Felicity Jones), I haven’t fallen in love with a woman and condoms and pregnancy scares have been very much a part of my life. But what if I had fancied that girl in my History class? It’s the very fact that being gay was never given to me as an option that would have made me feel like something was wrong with me. Again, this is nothing to do with my parent’s parenting, it’s the fact that it wasn’t talked about enough (although my Catholic education could be to blame for that one).

The very fact that Ireland had to vote this year – despite the fact that they said YES – serves as a reminder that, in 2015, we are still questioning whether those who aren’t ‘straight’, should be allowed basic human rights. Questioning whether two men or two women should be permitted to express their love for each other in a smart suit or nice dress makes me grimace. And the fact that there were still a handful of people who voted ‘no’ doesn’t even bear thinking about. And the worst part? It’s not just Ireland, is it? I have grown to know lots of men interested in men and women interested in women over the years and, sadly, they have ALL been subject to homophobic harassment. Some even stemming from home. And it has to stop.

This post was supposed to go up pre-Glastonbury, just in time for Pride. I’m glad I was too busy packing to post it. Worthy Farm is a place of complete oneness, acceptance and equality for all human beings and being there for five days reminded me of how ignorant people can be and how much further we still have to go in the real world. Glastonbury is not a playground for delusional, wacky idealists. It’s how things should be; some people just haven’t realised it yet.

I don’t want this post to be all doom and gloom though. Things are changing and I am thankful that my children (if I choose to have them) will grow up in a progressive world where, each day, we get one step closer to not only accepting homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender choices, but they will grow up believing that these choices are nothing to write home about, which sits way higher than ‘acceptance’ in my opinion.

To put it simply, everyone has the right to love and be loved. It’s the most beautiful, painful and extreme of all the emotions and, as humans, we are completely and utterly powerless to it. Lean into love, with whomever it may be with. And don’t worry about letting people know or explaining yourself. You’re lucky to have found it. And for those who don’t like your choices? Stuff ’em.